Darwin celebrates Olympic success
2 November 2012
The 2012 Australian Olympic Team received a friendly welcome home from the City of Darwin today in typical Northern Territory style – excited crowds, blistering heat and even a crocodile or two.
The Welcome Home celebration tour, which travelled around Australia in August, finally found its way to the Top End after originally being delayed by the Northern Territory general election.
Six Olympic medallists including David Smith – K4 gold, Jessica Fox – canoe slalom silver, Nina Curtis – sailing silver, Brooke Pratley – rowing silver, Ashleigh Southern – water polo bronze, the Territory’s own Joel Carroll – hockey bronze and six-time Paralympian Hamish MacDonald were treated to a street parade and public welcome, hosted by the City of Darwin and 2012 Team Deputy Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller.
The parade may have been delayed a couple months but the eagerness of Darwin’s school kids and city workers to meet the Olympic Team was clear to see as the Olympians mingled with the crowd and signed autographs.
“It’s so great to be in Darwin,” 18-year-old Fox said. “I’ve travelled all round the world with my sport but I’ve never been to Darwin and I am so excited to be here meeting all the kids, even if it is much hotter than I was expecting! They asked me if I would paddle in one of the local rivers but apparently there are crocs in all of them, so…no way!”
Even the 35 degree heat didn’t deter the crowds with the athletes swapping traditional green and gold tracksuits for their shorts and t shirts.
The athletes took the opportunity to visit a local school – St Paul’s Catholic School – who were a winning participant in the Prime Minister’s Olympic Challenge, before meeting kids at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
Earlier, the Olympians were literally thrown into Territorian life with Smith and Carroll taking on some monster crocs at Darwin’s famous Crocosaurus Cove.
“I was excited about getting in with the crocs at the beginning of the day, but then when I saw the size of them I wasn’t that excited anymore!” Smith said. “I think I was more nervous getting in the water with the crocs than I was in the Olympic final.”
Emerging safely from the croc-cage, Carroll was the toast of the town.
The 26-year-old indigenous hockey player grew up in Darwin, and although now based in Perth with the national hockey program, has a strong following in his home town. Carroll proved hugely popular with the crowds, showing off his bronze medal to kids as they queued up to be photographed with him.
“It’s really nice to come home and be welcomed by my family and friends,” Carroll said of the homecoming parade. “It’s great to see everyone in Darwin come out and be here today.”
The tour rounded out with a Civic Reception where Darwin’s acting Lord Mayor formally welcomed the athletes to the city and congratulated them on their achievements in London.